Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Update from Kansas Autism Task Force

The Kansas Autism Task Force, held its first meeting August 13, and you can go to the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services website to read testimony from the hearing, in a file linked here.

Mike Wasmer, co-founder of the Kansas Coalition for Autism and member of the task force, has posted a useful summary of the proceedings on the organization's home page. His report outlines some of the challenges that any state facing a rising population of children with autism spectrum disorders would have to grapple with, among them:

* The lack of federal funds that Medicare has available to provide Kansas in the short run for home- and community-based autism services. Basically, the state expects to get enough money to provide such services for 25 children. "Because of the limited number of spaces, there will obviously be a long waiting list," Mike Wasmer's report notes.

* The range of issues a state task force needs to tackle. A passage from the report states:
The Task Force needs to provide a preliminary report of legislative recommendations to the Legislative Educational Planning Committee (LEPC) by November 2007, and a final report by November 2008. The LEPC will review these recommendations and determine if legislation is introduced.

The Task Force is forming several subcommittees to consider:
  1. Best practice recommendations for educating individuals with autism.
  2. Strategies to increase the number and availability of qualified service providers to children with autism in all areas of Kansas.
  3. Health insurance coverage for services related to autism.
  4. Accessing education resources and funding.
  5. Public dissemination of information and the need for an autism registry.
Subcommittees will be holding meetings prior to the next meeting of the Task Force as a whole on September 20, 2007. Clearly, there are additional issues that need to be tackled by the Task Force than are being addressed by the above subcommittees. However, we need to narrow our focus in order to get concrete recommendations to the LEPC by the November 2007 deadline. Additional topics will be addressed prior to submission of the final report in November 2008.

The Kansas task force's next meeting will be 9:30 a.m., Sept. 20, in Room 313-S at the Kansas Statehouse.

Also see:

Kansas Appoints Autism Task Force with Goal of Improving Access to Services

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